Barnsley FC 0 AFC Bournemouth 1: Fans direct anger against Paul Conway as Reds lose again
In the rock-bottom Reds’ dire situation, it was at least something. If you lose - which Barnsley did again - then go down with a bit of fire in your belly, defiance and fight.
Defiance of a different sort arrived from sections of the club’s fans in the Pontefract Road end.
Chants against the club’s hierarchy - and more especially co-owner Paul Conway - were aired at regular junctures. Supporters of Bournemouth - a club who had their problems many moons ago - briefly joined in.
On the pitch, Barnsley succumbed to a fifth successive league defeat as their winless Championship streak extended to 11 matches with Phillip Billing’s 12th-minute goal proving decisive.
The Cherries did not add to it and it made for some nervy moments in the second half, more especially when veteran Gary Cahill was dismissed late on.
But they held out.
A sparse attendance was very much a sign of the times on an afternoon when some Barnsley supporters - given some grim developments during a desperate season thus far - clearly voted with their feet and elected not to bother.
The early noise came from the Cherries followers, although that changed after their early opener against the hosts, who handed a full debut to Matty Wolfe and a first league start to Remy Vita.
It was a comical concession with Brad Collins ill-advisedly racing out after Jack Stacey’s throughball dissected the Reds defence, with the Reds keeper beaten to the ball by Dom Solanke and left in no man’s land.
Solanke hoisted the ball towards goal and Billing rose above Jasper Moon to take advantage of soft defending to head home, with a touch from the backtracking Collins failing to keep it out.
It was the precursor to the first chorus of displeasure towards the board and the chants periodically came to the fore throughout the half.
The axis of Solanke - who should have done better with an early header - and Billing was too much for Barnsley at times and there looked a chasm in class, while Ryan Christie and Stacey produced some telling combinations down the right.
Barnsley, in the teeth of a powerful wind, were forced to hang in there. They got to half-time at 1-0, although they did have a couple of dangerous moments themselves.
The first saw Aaron Leya-Iseka’s powerful shot beaten away by Mark Travers after being played in on the left, while moments before the interval whistle, Callum Styles nipped in and just failed to convert from close in after a cross from Romal Palmer caused momentary panic.
Other than that, the Cherries were in the box seat and gorged on a 71 per cent possession rate, but could not add a second goal which would have surely finished the contest at half-time.
They had their chances, none moreso than Billing, with the ex-Huddersfield Town player spurning a couple of good opportunities as he passed up the chance to lay claim to the match-ball by half-time.
Jefferson Lerma also spurned a decent opportunity, while Collins grasped a powerful shot - not entirely convincingly - at the second attempt from Christie.
Barnsley, to be fair, gave Bournemouth something to think about on the restart, with the Cherries inability to put the game to bed not reflecting too well on them.
Travers had to be alert to keep out a strike from Devante Cole after the visitors switched off from Styles’ free-kick, while the Cherries custodian also kept out a daisy=cutter from Styles at full-stretch after good link-up play with Leya Iseka.
Attacking the Ponty End, Bournemouth also had their moments.
An unmarked Lerma saw his downward header parried by Collins after the hosts switched off, while Jaidon Anthony soon fired a crisp shot over.
Barnsley’s attitude and spirit could at least not be faulted, even if their quality levels were clearly not there.
As the chants continued, the game being a little bit of a side-show at times. But Barnsley persisted and Bournemouth got edgy - ,more especially when Cahill was dismissed. He could have few complaints after two bookable offences on Cole.
Aiden Marsh, on his debut, went close with a shot with his first touch and Styles, full of drive, shot at Travers. It was hearty and spirited, but another loss unfortunately.
Barnsley: Collins; Vita, Helik, Andersen; Moon, Wolfe (Marsh 78), Palmer (Benson 68), J Williams; Styles, Cole, Leya-Iseka. Substitutes unused: Walton, Hondermarck, Sraha, Bremang, Thompson.
Bournemouth: Travers; Stacey, Kelly, Cahill, Zemura; Pearson, Lerma, Billing; Christie (Hill 89), Solanke, Anthony (Lowe 84). Substitutes unused: Dennis, Marcondes, Lowe, Davis, Kilkenny, Moriah-Welsh.
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands).
Attendance: 11,972 (926 Bournemouth fans).